Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Arrington sits atop NFL with 7 interceptions
By Mike Rodak
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Some would say he's been in the right place, at the right time. Again, and again ... and again.
Continuing an improbable streak, Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington snagged two more passes that were been bounced, tipped, or floated his way on Monday night, emerging as the NFL's leader with seven interceptions through 10 games.
"Kyle has been very opportunistic this year being around the ball a lot," head coach Bill Belichick said. "When you're around it and close to it, those are the kind of plays you make. ... But quick hands, quick reactions ... you've got to give him credit for making the play and being close enough that when the receiver bobbled it, he was able to come up with it."
While he may not be considered in the same light as the league's elite ball-hawks, Arrington came up with two big plays in Monday night's win over the Chiefs, when the Patriots were without their top three cornerbacks entering the season (Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden, and Ras-I Dowling).
"It's a testament to guys stepping up," said safety James Ihedigbo, another unexpected contributor in the Patriots' makeshift defensive backfield. "It's great when you have the depth where key guys can go down and then you can have a performance like this on defense and especially in the secondary."
Arrington's first interception came late in the first half, as the Chiefs were responding to a Patriots score, driving into Patriots territory. Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko's pass bounced off the chest of receiver Steve Breaston, and into the awaiting arms of Arrington, who returned it 28 yards to set up a field goal.
"Being a left-handed quarterback, a lot of balls are going to come to our right - the side I'm on - so [I] just prepared and tried to keep out of his vision on a lot of his throws," Arrington explained. "He throws off his back foot a lot [and] balls sailed out a few times, so keeping [out of] his vision and trying to make a good break on it was the key."
Similarly, as the Chiefs were looking to get back in the game after a Julian Edelman punt return for a touchdown made it 24-3 in the third quarter, a pass deflected off the hands of receiver Jonathan Baldwin and, again, found its way into Arrington's grasp.
"Turnovers and points off turnovers - that decides a game a lot in most cases," Arrington said. "We try to be a very opportunistic defense, so when those opportunities present themselves we just have to jump on them."